The Realm of Hungry Spirits

The Realm of Hungry Spirits

by Lorraine López
     
 

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In Buddhism, there is a place where hungry souls gather between lives awaiting rebirth so they can finally satisfy the desires that haunt them.

In the San Fernando Valley, that place is Marina Lucero's house.

THE REALM OF HUNGRY SPIRITS

For Marina Lucero, whose father transformed his life through meditation and whose

Overview

In Buddhism, there is a place where hungry souls gather between lives awaiting rebirth so they can finally satisfy the desires that haunt them.

In the San Fernando Valley, that place is Marina Lucero's house.

THE REALM OF HUNGRY SPIRITS

For Marina Lucero, whose father transformed his life through meditation and whose mother gave hers to a Carmelite convent, spirituality should come easily. It doesn't. After a devastating relationship leaves her feeling lost and alone, she opens her home to a collection of wayward souls-- the abused woman next door and her alcoholic sister, her aimless nephew and his broken-hearted best friend. Her house now full but her heart still empty, Marina then turns to the wisdom of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, even a Santeria priest who wants to cleanse her home.

As Marina struggles to balance the disappointments and delights of daily life, she'll learn that, when it comes to inner peace and those we love, a little chaos can lead to a lot of happiness.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In López's second novel, 33-year-old schoolteacher Marina Lucero struggles to free herself from a demanding gaggle of friends and family. Skeptical of religion because of her zealot parents, Marina tries to draw spiritual guidance from the Dalai Lama and Gandhi, but selfless generosity is a constant struggle when an endless parade of down-on-their-luck sycophants turn to her for support. An abused next-door neighbor, a shiftless nephew, a bereaved stepdaughter, and a self-absorbed younger sister are among the needy who find their way to Marina's open door. Rudy, Marina's ex-boyfriend, who dumped her on Valentine's Day, reappears with a laundry list of desires while Rudy's best friend, a self-styled Santeria priest, threatens her with the "evil eye" unless she gives him a character reference. Tragedies major and minor pile up, and Marina starts to feel as though she might, indeed, have been cursed. But she resolves to perform her own self-styled spiritual cleansing and reclaim her life. Through snappy dialogue and rich detail, López ( The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters) creates characters who are lovable even at their most irritating, and the perpetually ridiculous demands of Marina's "hungry spirits" provide moments of hilarious dark comedy—but the overall buildup of grievances becomes repetitive, and Marina doesn't evolve much over the course of the story. (May)
Booklist
"This story of a faith-propelled, irrepressible Chicana bursts with life as it comes to an

eminently satisfying, all-encompassing conclusion. López, author of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters (2008),

shows good storytelling skills once again."

(EFE) Telemundoatlanta.com
"López, quien se dio a conocer con su novela "The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters", maneja las convenciones de la literatura popular para mujeres a la perfección."

López, who came to fame with her novel The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, manages the conventions of popular fiction for women to perfection.

Judith Ortiz Cofer
"Although it is a humorous, often raucous story of the witty and wise Marina's struggle to find inner peace among the motley crew of relatives, friends, antagonists, and former and potential lovers that surround her, The Realm of Hungry Spirits is, first and foremost, a spiritual journey; one that leads a good soul towards a life-changing discovery . The Dalai's Lama's words, both simple and profound, contain the message that Marina finally 'gets,' once she gives herself over completely to the impulse that defines her: generosity towards others."
Lynn Pruett
"The Realm of Hungry Spirits is a marvelous novel. In it, Lorraine Lopez brilliantly orchestrates a cast of complicated and audacious characters. My new literary heroine, Marina Lucero, gamely tackles this riveting spiritual puzzle: How can our tormentors possibly be our teachers? Readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages to discover the answer. With her deft and pitch-perfect prose, Lopez has created a wickedly funny and warmly empathetic tale of life in contemporary America. The Realm of Hungry Spirits is the work of one of our finest literary artists."
Joy Castro
This warm comic novel is trademark Lorraine López: gritty, true, hilarious, wise, moving--all the good things. Her indomitable, grace-seeking, wise-cracking heroine Marina is an everywoman pushed by love and circumstance to make the choice we all face: people, or peace?
Teresa Dovalpage author of A Girl like Che Guevara
"A masterful novel that explores, with a humorous touch, the powers of femininity and a young woman's struggle to become spiritually aware in a mad world. Lorraine Lopez, a laureate novelist and a PEN/ Faulkner Award Finalist, proves her brilliance once more."
Good Housekeeping on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS
"Enchanting debut."
Judith Ortiz Cofer author of Call Me Maria on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS
"The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is a laugh-aloud funny and lay-your-head-down-and-cry lyrical tour of melded cultures and traditions, of blended tongues, and the sites of the inevitable clashes between worlds; it is a window into the strange conjunctions that exist as parallel universes in today's multicultural America. The result is wisdom and delight, delight and wisdom."
The Tennessean on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS
"Lorraine López didn't set out to write a book that challenged narrow perceptions of Latino culture, but that's just what she has done with her richly imagined new novel."
Alex Espinoza
"The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is about secrets and lies, dramas and scandals, big losses and deep resentments-the very stuff that makes life worth living. It's been a long time since I've encountered such a rambunctious and motley bunch of characters. And in López's hands, through her finely calibrated prose, they lift off the page with dignity and soul, and she makes you root and ache for each of them until the very end."
From the Publisher
"López imagines believable characters and observes their world with literary insight. An entertaining appreciation of one woman's journey, sometimes ribald and funny, sometimes ironic and self-deprecating."—Kirkus Reviews"

This story of a faith-propelled, irrepressible Chicana bursts with life as it comes to an

eminently satisfying, all-encompassing conclusion. López, author of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters (2008),

shows good storytelling skills once again."—Booklist"

Through snappy dialogue and rich detail, López (The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters) creates characters who are lovable even at their most irritating, and the perpetually ridiculous demands of Marina's 'hungry spirits' provide moments of hilarious dark comedy."—Publishers Weekly "

Although it is a humorous, often raucous story of the witty and wise Marina's struggle to find inner peace among the motley crew of relatives, friends, antagonists, and former and potential lovers that surround her, The Realm of Hungry Spirits is, first and foremost, a spiritual journey; one that leads a good soul towards a life-changing discovery . The Dalai's Lama's words, both simple and profound, contain the message that Marina finally 'gets,' once she gives herself over completely to the impulse that defines her: generosity towards others."—Judith Ortiz Cofer"

A masterful novel that explores, with a humorous touch, the powers of femininity and a young woman's struggle to become spiritually aware in a mad world. Lorraine Lopez, a laureate novelist and a PEN/ Faulkner Award Finalist, proves her brilliance once more."—Teresa Dovalpage author of A Girl like Che Guevara

This warm comic novel is trademark Lorraine López: gritty, true, hilarious, wise, moving—all the good things. Her indomitable, grace-seeking, wise-cracking heroine Marina is an everywoman pushed by love and circumstance to make the choice we all face: people, or peace?—Joy Castro, author of The Truth Book"

The Realm of Hungry Spirits is a marvelous novel. In it, Lorraine Lopez brilliantly orchestrates a cast of complicated and audacious characters. My new literary heroine, Marina Lucero, gamely tackles this riveting spiritual puzzle: How can our tormentors possibly be our teachers? Readers will hold their breath as they turn the pages to discover the answer. With her deft and pitch-perfect prose, Lopez has created a wickedly funny and warmly empathetic tale of life in contemporary America. The Realm of Hungry Spirits is the work of one of our finest literary artists."—Lynn Pruett, author Ruby River"

López, quien se dio a conocer con su novela "The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters", maneja las convenciones de la literatura popular para mujeres a la perfección.

López, who came to fame with her novel The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, manages the conventions of popular fiction for women to perfection.(EFE) Telemundoatlanta.com"

Enchanting debut."
Good Housekeeping on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS"

Engaging...Lopez establishes herself as an excellent storyteller with this multilayered tale of sisterhood, growing up, self-awareness and honoring history."—Publishers Weekly on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS"

Reminiscent of the novels of Cristina Garcia and Sandra Cisneros, Lopez's book presents a lively, loving Latino family."—Library Journal on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS"

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is about secrets and lies, dramas and scandals, big losses and deep resentments-the very stuff that makes life worth living. It's been a long time since I've encountered such a rambunctious and motley bunch of characters. And in López's hands, through her finely calibrated prose, they lift off the page with dignity and soul, and she makes you root and ache for each of them until the very end."—Alex Espinoza, author of STILL WATER SAINTS on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS"

Lorraine López didn't set out to write a book that challenged narrow perceptions of Latino culture, but that's just what she has done with her richly imagined new novel."—The Tennessean on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS"

The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is a laugh-aloud funny and lay-your-head-down-and-cry lyrical tour of melded cultures and traditions, of blended tongues, and the sites of the inevitable clashes between worlds; it is a window into the strange conjunctions that exist as parallel universes in today's multicultural America. The result is wisdom and delight, delight and wisdom."—Judith Ortiz Cofer author of Call Me Maria on THE GIFTED GABALDÓN SISTERS

Kirkus Reviews

Marina Lucero reads the Dalai Lama, ponders Gandhi and yearns for inner peace. What she has is a challenging and needy family and a demanding and clueless set of friends.

Thirty-something Marina, a San Fernando Valley schoolteacher, had a mother who joined a Carmelite cloister when Marina was a child and a father who drank. Marina remains a bit resentful about her childhood, at least when her extended Hispanic family allows her time to think about it. There's older sister Della and her aimless dyslexic son Kiko. There's younger sister Xochi and her hapless sometime boyfriend Reggie. Then there is Rudy, Marina's former boyfriend, who thinks a failed relationship should provide fringe benefits. Marina does love Rudy's daughter, Letty, whom Marina mothered into adulthood. Letty's new baby, little Rudy, is hospitalized and mortally ill. Marina must rush to the aid of Letty and her husband, Miguel, a recovering drug addict, because that's what Marina does. She is a motherly caretaker, a woman constantly dancing between fatigue and self-imposed obligation. The book finds Marina teaching summer school, coping with Kiko and Reggie, both living on her couches, and providing intermittent refuge for Carlotta, her sweet next-door neighbor who is a punching bag for her out-of-work husband. Little Rudy dies, Letty attempts suicide, Carlotta is knocked into a hospital bed by her husband and Rudy demands that Marina give a false legal deposition so that his friend, Nestor, a Santeria priest, a voodoo babalawo, can escape child support payments. While dealing with these "hungry spirits," Marina generates romantic sparks with Carlos Lozano, an attractive and intelligent art teacher, and Arturo Ortiz, a nervous and engaging young doctor finishing his residency. López (Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories, 2009, etc.) imagines believable characters and observes their world with literary insight.

An entertaining appreciation of one woman's journey, sometimes ribald and funny, sometimes ironic and self-deprecating.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609418687
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/02/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
920 KB

What People are saying about this

Judith Ortiz Cofer
"Although it is a humorous, often raucous story of the witty and wise Marina's struggle to find inner peace among the motley crew of relatives, friends, antagonists, and former and potential lovers that surround her, The Realm of Hungry Spirits is, first and foremost, a spiritual journey; one that leads a good soul towards a life-changing discovery . The Dalai's Lama's words, both simple and profound, contain the message that Marina finally 'gets,' once she gives herself over completely to the impulse that defines her: generosity towards others.

Meet the Author

Lorraine López is a Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She won the 2003 Independent Publishers Book Award for Multicultural Fiction, awarded by the Jenkins Group, for Soy la Avon Lady and other Stories. The same work also won the 2003 Latino Book Award for Short Stories, awarded by the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. In 2001, López was awarded the Inaugural Miguel Marmol Prize for Fiction, selected by Sandra Cisneros and awarded by Curbstone Press, for a first book-length work of fiction of a Latino writer.

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